An MSP has criticised the Scottish Government for putting the reopening of pubs ahead of places of worship.
Murdo Fraser called it “extraordinary” that bars and restaurants will be allowed to open their doors from 15 July but churches must wait to hold communal services until at least 23 July. Some “non-essential” shops have already reopened.
He said: “This seems a very strange set of priorities by the Scottish Government and gives the impression they are prioritising pints over prayers.”
Churches in Scotland are currently permitted to open for limited circumstances, including funerals and private prayer with social distancing measures in place.
But Fraser called on the Scottish Government to “explain why people will be able to gather in pubs but not in places of worship”.
He said that he agreed with the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland that the delay in fully reopening places of worship has been “disappointing” and “perplexing”.
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland recently released a statement saying that “further delays to communal worship appear unjustified”.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “It is simply wrong for the Scottish Government to block communal worship until at least 23 July when pubs, restaurants and cinemas are reopening on 15 July. Do our political leaders think that Christians cannot be trusted to meet together?”
“To our knowledge, all churches in Scotland have fully complied with all government requests from the very beginning of lockdown. Christians are instructed to submit to rulers and authorities. In the midst of a clear public health crisis, they would want to do nothing to harm their neighbours.”
Last week it was announced that places of worship in England will be allowed to reopen on 4 July.
Churches were previously permitted to open for private prayer, but regular church services will now be allowed as long as appropriate social distancing measures are applied. Weddings can also take place again, although numbers will be restricted to a maximum of 30.
The announcement came as churches in Northern Ireland were permitted to open from 29 June and church buildings in Wales and Scotland were able to open for private prayer.